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Overfishing and hunting pushing iconic species to extinction
Increasingly intense and unregulated coastal fishing is pushing rhino rays to the brink of extinction.

IUCN updates Red List of Threatened Species

Iconic species are being driven to extinction thanks to unsustainable fishing and hunting, according to the latest update of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

For the first time, the IUCN Red List has broken the 100,000 species barrier and includes assessments for over 105,732 species, of which 28,338 are threatened with extinction.

The update shows that rhino rays are now the most imperilled fish families on the planet, with all of the 16 species assessed as Critically Endangered. It also reveals that hunting combined with habitat loss has pushed seven species of primate closer to extinction.

“With more than 100,000 species now assessed for the IUCN Red List, this update clearly shows how much humans around the world are overexploiting wildlife,” said IUCN acting director-general, Dr Grethel Aguilar. 

“We must wake up to the fact that conserving nature’s diversity is in our interest, and is absolutely fundamental to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. States, businesses and civil society must urgently act to halt the overexploitation of nature, and must respect and support local communities and Indigenous Peoples in strengthening sustainable livelihoods.” 

Jane Smart, global director of the IUCN Biodiversity Conservation Group, added: “Both national and international trade are driving the decline of species in the oceans, in freshwater and on land. Decisive action is needed at scale to halt this decline; the timing of this assessment is critical as governments are starting to negotiate a new global biodiversity framework for such action.”

Closely related to sharks, rhino rays live in the waters of the Indian and West Pacific Oceans as well as the East Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. Experts say that increasingly intense and unregulated coastal fishing is driving their decline, with most caught with other fish as “bycatch”. 

Rhino ray meat is locally sold, while the fins are highly valued and traded internationally for shark fin soup.

In West and Central Africa, 40 per cent of primate species are threatened with extinction. The rollaway monkey, for example, has shifted from Endangered to Critically Endangered owing to the value of its meat and skin.  

It is believed that Western primates are also suffering severe habitat loss as land is converted to food crops. Road access is facilitating hunting and the transportation of bushmeat to local markets and distant urban centres. 

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Zoo animals step on the scales for annual weigh-in

News Story 1
 Squirrel monkeys, penguins and meerkats are just some of the animals that stepped on the scales on Thursday (22 August) for the start of ZSL London Zoo’s annual weigh-in.

The annual event gives keepers a chance to check the animals in their care are healthy, eating well and growing at the correct weight. Keepers say that a growing waistline can also help them to detect pregnancies, which is vital as many of the species at the zoo are endangered.

The data is then added to a database shared with zoos and conservationists across the globe. This helps keepers to compare information and provide better care for the species they are fighting to protect.  

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News Shorts
Professor Abdul Rahman announced as keynote speaker for BVA Members’ Day 2019

Celebrated Indian vet and parasitologist Professor Abdul Rahman is set to deliver the keynote speech at BVA Members’ Day 2019.

Professor Rahman will present his insights into the human behaviour challenges of controlling zoonotic disease in his talk: ‘A One Health approach to rabies elimination in Asia’. The talk will outline efforts to gain political support for dog vaccination programmes in China, as well as the need for a collaborative approach between vets, public health, livestock and animal welfare agencies.

The event takes place on Thursday, 19 September at Brangwyn Hall, Swansea. Tickets are free but must be reserved through the BVA website as places are limited.